Forest Governance in Tanzania – Community Voices
Over the years, debates and discussions on the state of the forestry sector in Tanzania have been ongoing. This has led to an agreement amongst Civil Society that the biggest challenge facing forestry sector at all levels is related to governance of these resources.
The Forest Governance Learning Group (coordinated by TNRF) hosted an event in Dar es Salaam entitled, " A Hearing: The State of Forest Governance in Tanzania - from a Citizen's perspective." This event gave space to Tanzanian citizens to share their experiences with and concerns about forest governance practices in their communities. Individuals from four Mama Misitu Campaign project areas of Dar es Salaam, Coast, Lindi and Mtwara Regions are providing testimonies about governance issues, law enforcement challenges, and also about success stories on forest governance. There was a panel of experts listening to the stories and provided their reactions and recommendations for moving forward.
Among the issues raised by the testifiers at this hearing include the following;
- Cost benefit sharing
- Weak enforcement of Forest Laws
- Government supporting communities in governing their forests
- Corruption and
- Lack of collaboration between stakeholders and government
Community members from Kibaha and Kisarawe explain the challenges they face when it comes to managing and benefiting from their forests:
Quote from community member one
..I have been a councilor of Masaki Ward, Kisarawe District since 2010. I never used to be involved in any of these meetings or activities but when I reached the MMC, I was impressed with the work the campaign is doing. Initially there was no education, people were not aware about the benefits of forests and importance of protecting them. ..Before I got this job, I said it was not my work...but from MMC we understood that we inherited these forests from our parents. I am therefore ready to work together with all of you to protect our forests. I request all local leaders to get such awareness so that we all respect our forests. Awareness or education provided from local level (community level) to higher level. We need to work together and protect our forests."
Quote from community member two
"Years ago communities did not understand how the benefits of forests and how to protect the forests in their areas. There was a time we got hold of bicycles carrying charcoal which we then started doing surveillance. When we reported this case, we were informed by the Ward Executive Officer that we have no mandate to catch anyone.
From this Campaign we are glad that we have done a lot of work on forest governance... I request that we involve all stakeholders, including religious leaders, the young and the old, women and men."
Learn more about such discussions in an article about the Forest Governance Hearing, which took place last Tuesday. A summary about the event coming soon...